Breaking Down the Slow Starts of Boston Celtics' Jason Terry and Courtney Lee
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Each has averaged over 24 minutes per game—28.8 for Jet and 24.2 for Lee if you want to get technical—but neither has really made them count as well as expected.
Both have played extra minutes in Avery Bradley's absence. Luckily for the Celtics, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, Bradley is nearing return and should begin practicing with full contact as scheduled by mid-December.
At that point, Terry and Lee will be able to fall more comfortably into the roles they were originally recruited for.
Here's a look at why they haven't produced up to par so far.
The Celtics are a team predicated on locking down opponents on the defensive end. Last year, Bradley's injury during the postseason significantly worsened their perimeter defense.
His absence was made especially obvious by Ray Allen's fragile ankle. By the time the C's stepped on the court for Game 7, it was hard to expect them to be able to stop the oncoming offensive train that was the Miami Heat.
Add in Terry and Lee to the mix before the start of a new campaign, and what you see is the lingering truth. Boston's backcourt will not be the same until Avery returns in full stride.
Terry and Lee's efforts do not compare to Bradley's feisty defense against the pick and roll. As a result, the Celtics are more susceptible to getting whomped in the paint by big men rolling off of high screens.
Lee is pretty quick; Terry not so much. Contrasting youth and athleticism aside, neither has been able to stay in front of his man well enough this season.
The team is ranked No. 15 in total defense, allowing opponents to score an average of 97.7 points per game. Lee and Terry are a major part of the reason why the C's have failed to get into a rhythm.
Jason Terry: Road Play
The Jet thrives in front of the TD Garden faithful. In 10 home games so far this year, Terry has shot .600 from the floor while averaging 13.7 points. More impressively, in those 10 games, Terry is shooting a startling 53.8 percent from beyond the arc.
When the Celtics travel, Terry's shooting efficiency suffers in every category. He has shot only .368 from the field while hitting 23.5 percent of threes.
Terry is the type of player that lives for big moments in hyped-up arenas. His success often seems to flow with the energy he siphons from the crowd. In any case, Terry needs to find a way to step up his play on the road.
Courtney Lee: Failure to Score
Lee was the starter on opening night against Miami, mixed into the lineup across from former Celtic and current rival Ray Allen. That night, Lee shot 5-for-6 from the floor with 11 points in a 120-107 loss.
Lee's best shooting performance of the season remains against the Heat on Oct. 30. He has averaged .454 from the field, but is shooting a frightening 24 percent from three-point land. Putting up 5.7 points while averaging 24.2 minutes per night is simply not enough out of someone the Celtics expect to take some of the offensive burden off the starters.
Who will be the most relevant reserve guard once Avery Bradley returns?
On top of his poor shooting from distance, Lee has only been to the free-throw line 10 times in total. That means that a guard who sees significant minutes, handles the ball well and possesses legitimate speed and athleticism is going to the line less than once per game.
This is completely unacceptable and uncharacteristic of a player at his position. While the season is still young, Celtics coach Doc Rivers already had a chat with Lee to ask for a boost in intensity.
Getting Lee to the line more would mean a few positive things for the Celtics offensively. Lee's accuracy from the charity stripe (he's 8-for-10 on the season) would boost his confidence in his offensive play. His teammates would benefit more from open passing lanes created by his penetration.
Lastly and most importantly, Lee needs to feel at home with his new team. He has shown the drive and intelligence to be a good fit in Boston's system, but his abilities have yet to transfer to the court.
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